Lumpy Ridge Hike & Poudre Canyon Camping

During our last few days in Colorado before we met up with friends for a wedding near Denver, we explored Rocky Mountain National Park and then camped in Poudre Canyon (that’s pronounced POO-DER) (that’s right, best name ever).

 

First stop in RMNP was a small but beautiful picnic area below the tree line

RMNP is amazing. I think I enjoyed it more than driving up Pike’s Peak. But that could just be because the drive up Pike’s Peak is terrifyingggggg and the drive up into the mountains of RMNP is a little tamer but not at all less breathtaking. I couldn’t get over how much snow was up there. So much!!! There were people hiking up and skiing down. They had just barely opened the road for the summer and I could tell why, snow drifts on both sides of the roads! We ate our lunch at a picnic table in the middle of the snow, it was amazing.

 

So much snowwwwww!

Picnic in the snow!!

Getting into the alpine zone

Below treeline again, check out that sky

We saw pikas and bighorn sheep and coyote and a giant elk that I feverishly pulled off the road to take pictures of.

 

This isn’t the best picture of the sheep (bottom right) but I loved the background

Bighorn sheep making an exit

I’m pretty sure this is an elk…but maybe a moose?!?!

I can’t explain how much I enjoyed RMNP and I wish we’d had more than one day to explore. Pictures do not do it justice.

 

I had really wanted to get a hike in while we were in RMNP but the timing wasn’t going to work out, so I found a hike just outside the park that looked good. It was located at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead….another great name!!! We didn’t have a ton of time as we had to get to our campsite about 2 hours away in the Poudre, set up, and then find a place to watch game 3 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. So, we set out for a quick 1.5 mile hike.

RMNP in the distance!

Hiking through some pretty forest

Lumpy Ridge

More views of mountains in the distance, can’t get enough

 

Yay hiking!

It turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. Some elevation gain, mostly in the beginning of the hike, and gorgeous views of the mountains we had just been exploring in RMNP. We saw a couple other hikers but for the most part we had it to ourselves which was really nice.

After that quick hike we booked it to our campsite to set up in the rain, before making a quick fire and then dinner, and then over to the amazing Mishawaka, a bar/restaurant/music venue directly on the Poudre River, where we were able to watch the hockey game. The bar tender and other patrons were, in true Colorado style, amazingly nice and we all cheered on the Capitals to a win!

Eggs and bacon over the fire in the morning!

The best campsite I’ve ever had, right next to the river

Bye Poudre we miss you!!!

A special shout out to our my friend Stephanie who recommended both the Poudre Canyon and The Mishawaka. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip!!

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Boulder Hike of Death

A few days into our Colorado vaca we made our way back over the mountains to the town of Boulder. On our first morning in Boulder we wanted to get a hike in, so I grabbed a trail map from our hotel lobby and picked a trail that was marked as moderate, the Royal Arch trail out of Chautauqua park. Well folks, that trail should have been labeled HARD AF. Because it was. It was only two miles to the pinnacle, but it was switch backs and rock scrambles galore and we were exhausted by the time we reached the top!!

This way to lung overload

Again….when am I moving to CO?!?!?!

The beginning of the trail was so tame!!!

The view at the top was superb and the arch was amazing, although of course my immediate worry was that today would be the day it toppled over a smushed us. Thankfully, that was not the case and we sat up there re-hydrating and taking pictures for a bit before heading back down. There were some rain clouds in the sky and I definitely didn’t want to get stuck up there in a thunder storm! The two miles back down, which I had eagerly anticipated being so much easier than the two miles straight up we had just done, proved to be more of a challenge than I wanted. The stress on our joints coming down, down, down was intense. Still not as bad as going up, though. Eff that.

Here come the rocks

Only pic I got of the arch because I still couldn’t breathe

Views from the top!

I believe that’s Boulder University down there

So overall, despite my many stops on the way up and complaints about how I couldn’t breathe, it was an amazing hike and I would absolutely do it again. Maybe not for another year or so, give my mind a little time to forget how miserable I was on the way up. But isn’t that the best thing about hiking?! You feel awful going up but then the payoff of arriving at the top and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards always keep you coming back for more!!

Hiking, Road Rage, Parking Lot Leg Shaving….

Recently I had a baby shower to attend in Northern Virginia at noon on a Saturday. I wanted to get in some hiking miles on Saturday because I knew I would be busy on Sunday, so I got up early and left the house by 7:45ish. My plan was to hike an easy loop in Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, along the VA side of the Potomac. I chose this trail because since I had to attend the shower afterwards and wouldn’t be able to shower in between, I wanted an easy, flat 2-3 mile trail. My plans were foiled, however, because by the time I arrived at 9am both of the parking lots for this location were filled with cars waiting for a spot. I figured arriving around 9 might be a little dicey and it definitely turned out to be correct!! So, with 3 hours until baby shower time, I had to find an alternative fast. I knew there was Great Falls National Park nearby, so I headed there. It hadn’t been my first choice because of the $10 entrance fee.

After waiting in the entrance line for a few minutes and finding a park spot it was already 9:30, and I definitely wanted to get in at least 3 miles so I took off towards the trails after glancing at a map, not bothering to do any research on the terrain. I figured how bad could it be? WELL, it was a little effing rough. For a while it was just flat walking in the woods, but once the trail made its way along the rive it was straight up rocks and then straight down rocks. And the weather went straight up into the 80’s. (Isn’t that Maryland for you? Freeze warning one night and then up into the 80’s the next day. How’s about a nice 65 degree spring day?!)

Flat part of the trail, easy and pretty!

This isn’t the real steep party because I had to put my phone away so I wouldn’t smash it, but this is some of the more tricky terrain I ran into. 

Hiking along the Potomac. You forget how much beauty there is so close to DC!

So needless to say I was sweaty AF by the time I reached my turnaround point, and even grosser when I got back to my car. I had made a quick detour to go check out the rapids since I’d never been there before so my total mileage turned out to be more like 3.6. This put me back at the car around 11am and the baby shower started at noon and was about 17 miles away.

The Rapids at Great Falls, VA, pretty impressive

As I’ve mentioned several times already, because I can’t emphasize it enough, I looked like a rat drowned in sweat. I definitely needed to do something about that situation before this baby shower. Not only was I going to somebody’s house I didn’t know, I was about to see a slew of people I only see once or twice a year. So I battled the outrageous Northern Virginia traffic, legit almost lost my mind at the amount of people there were on the road, causing my 10 mile trip to take THIRTY GODDAMN MINUTES, and finally found a grocery store near the baby shower location. I sprinted in, it now being past 11:30 thanks to NOVA hell, bought some deodorant and wipes, and cleaned myself up and changed like a vagabond in the grocery store bathroom. I even had some hairspray in my purse to get my braid back in line with (I’m sure it looked good for a hot second before spiraling into frizz-city again).

When I made it back out to my car I realized I probably should have planned ahead and shaved my legs. But, true to myself, I had not planned ahead! And they needed some attention. I have a razor in my gym bag in case of emergencies (emergency being every single Wednesday I forget to shave before group personal training class and do so 5 minutes beforehand in the locker room) (stop judging me) so I thought ok, I’ll just touch up these legs now before I head to this shower. In the parking lot. I’m parked away from everyone, I’m just doing the bottom of my legs, nobody can see anything…..what could happen? Well, I’ll tell you what can happen. A gross man can drive up in his truck and try to hit on you, that’s what can fucking happen. WTF guy!!! Are you for real right now?! Did you think I was trying to attract a man by shaving my legs in a fucking parking lot? Did you think I noticeably parked away from ALL THE OTHER CARS because I wanted you to come park directly next to me?! NO. On all accounts, just no. And then he had the audacity to look HURT AND CONFUSED when I stormed around my car and drove away without acknowledging him. Pro tip: don’t fucking talk to me.

SO, legs half shaven but actually relatively clean and put together, I did make it to the baby shower on time. It was wonderful celebrating Katie, mom to be, and hanging out with so many amazing ladies!!!! So, despite the road-rage-inducing traffic in NOVA, it was a great day!!

Image may contain: 11 people, including Amanda Marie Elizabeth Kreis, Kristen Duffy, Elissa Halloran, Lynne Duffy, Erin Miriam, Kathy Duffy and Lizzie Temme Duffy, people smiling, people standing, tree and outdoor

Baby shower group! I stole this pic from Lynne’s facebook!

Week 15, Goal: 45, Hiked: 32 (this was the count as of that hike a couple weeks ago)

Learn to Backpack Like a Lady

Ever since last fall when I was suddenly struck with the realization of just how little I was getting into the great outdoors, I haven’t stopped thinking about trying out overnight backpacking. I’ve been doing well with getting outside and going for walks and hikes, but I want to immerse myself in nature!! I want to get away from all the people and pavement and cars and cars and cars and cars and strip malls that is most of Maryland. Sadly, as is the case with most hobbies, backingpacking equipment is priceyyyyy AF. So I’ve been stalking sales and borrowing and inheriting some items here and there. I have a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and now backpacking pack. I still need to figure out water filtration system, backpacking stove, and how the fuck you hang your shit in the air so that a bear doesn’t eat it, among some other items. Maybe a multi-tool. Maybe some fucking mace.

So last week my friend Kate and I went to a Women’s Backpacking Basics class put on by REI. It was pretty informative but a lot of the info could be found on the web. The best part was that since it was for women it talked about a lot of obstacles men don’t have to deal on the trail. AKA we can’t pee standing up and we get periods and being alone on a trail as a woman can be dangerous.

The instructor didn’t seem as concerned as I always am about being stalked and murdered in the woods. I’m never concerned before my hike. Before my hike I’m all like The chances of that happening are so low, that’s just being paranoid, I just listen to too many true crime podcasts, just my anxiety talking, bla bla bla. And then I’m out in the middle of the forest and I see someone else on the trail and I immediately jump to HE IS A MURDERER!! God forbid some poor guy be hiking a trail and catch up to me, then he’s not only a murderer, in my mind he’s a murderer THAT IS CHASING ME. So I think I might want to invest in some mace, juuust in case.

My biggest hang up with actually going on a backpacking trip is not actually maybe I’ll get murdered, it’s more omg I will have to sleep alone in the dark in the woods. And I will definitely have to pee in the middle of the night. And I hate the dark. So I will absolutely be paralyzed with darkness fear. And every forest movement noise in the middle of the night will be terrifying. Sunlight = safety and darkness = NOPE. I’ll have to work on that.

So, while it’s not like I’m going to take off on the Appalachian Trail anytime soon (the whole having a job, maybe getting a kid soon, being a responsible adult thing gets in the way), I do think I’m going to attempt an overnight trip at some point this summer/fall. Hopefully Kate will come and we can be scared of the dark together. Or at least tell each other comforting things like that wasn’t a bear, it was just a large boulder crashing through the bushes.

30 Day Beach Countdown

Ok, so I started counting down to the beach…somewhere about 80-90 days out from the actual vaca. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a vacation. I’m not sure if it’s because I genuinely NEED a vacation (I do), or because I’m SO EXCITED to hang out with AWESOME people, or because it’s THE BEACH, or because I get to subsist solely on quesadillas and BUD LITE LIME…it’s probably all of those…but I am way more excited for the beach than I usually am.

However, in preparation for the beach, I’ve been trying to lean out a bit, or at least maintain my current physique (that word makes me sound like a badass, maybe a better description would be ‘current body status’) … and it is NOT going as planned!! For one, I have an extreme case of Adult Senioritis. This is something I’ve just made up. And it doesn’t really make sense, since it’s not like work is ending and I’ll be out for the summer. But in my head, that seems to be the case. All I want to do is summer activities like barbecue, eat bad food, drink margaritas and rum runners and bud lite limes, and play yard games. And yet, I’m at work Monday – Friday, only dreaming of these activities. So when the weekend comes, it’s hard for me to drink water, eat well, and exercise it up. Like I said…all I want to do is eat, drink and play.

I decided I needed something that would keep me in check, so I signed up for group training at my gym (#bestgymever). Knowing that I would have to keep a food diary, and would be working out hard, I thought that would help me stay in line. OMG I couldn’t have been more WRONG. Pretty much as soon as I was starting to track my food, the Stanley Cup Playoffs started. Well, my husband and I have no cable, so we have to go out to bars to watch. And then my teams started losing. So clearly, I drank like a fish and ate wings like a boss. Fail #1. Then, husband and I went on a weekend trip to Chincoteague & Assateague Islands, in VA (you know, with the wild ponies). We had a GREAT relaxing and fun weekend. But it involved fried seafood and mimosas and ice cream sundaes for dinner. So basically the best weekend ever, although clearly not helping me on my goals to fitness before the beach. Fail #2.

When we started the group training program at the gym, we were supposed to write down some goals for ourselves. Mine were drink no more than 2 glasses of wine per week and no other alcohol (fail), stop eating cheese (extra fail), drink 100 ounces of water/day (semi fail). Clearly there is work to be done in the inhaling of food department. However, my lifting goals are going well. I wanted to increase my weight on Turkish Getups, which I’ve been working on diligently, and I wanted to make my way to 25 pushups (real ones) in a row, which I’m SO CLOSE to. So, overall I guess everything isn’t a wash, since at least I’m making strength progress.

I’ve gotta get it together in the nutrition department, though. Unfortunately, as much as it is annoying to hear, it’s incredibly true when ‘they’ say “Abs are made in the kitchen.” For sure they are. And I can tell you they are NOT made at the liquor store, nor at the chinese buffet. But wouldn’t it be AMAZING if they were?!

So, since I’ve been real lazy about blogging as of late, I’m gonna try and up my game in both nutrition AND blogging, and try to keep up my progress as we near beach week. OMG beach week WHERE ARE YOU, I need you now.

Did I mention I want to buy a skim board to use at the beach? Probably a bad idea, as I will most likely end up with a broken something or another, but they are SO FUN.

Here are some pics of my epic fail meals. Not only do these delicious treats keep me from my goals, but they make my body punish me in a hardcore way. I certainly paid in pain for all of these. But sometimes, the pain is worth the snack delight.

 

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Fried clams, fries, and hush puppies…what?!

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Pineapple sundae with almond joy icecream. holy yum.

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Is that a Ledo’s Pizza with sausage and bacon and a gluten free crust?! Yes it is.

The Slippery Slope of Hangover Snacks

Who saw my pics on Facebook from my friend’s wedding last Saturday night?! Omg so much fun. Unfortunately, it was also so much FOOD AND DRINK!!! I swear it took me until Wednesday to recover. Not just from the hangover, either…well…maybe, but also from all the snacks. Attending a wedding, drinking the bar dry, and stuffing my face that night, as well as the entire next day, in hopes of alleviating the feeling of death I caused myself, is not really the smartest decision. Yes, I was living in the moment and having a great time and creating some awesome memories, but damn I’m just too old for that shit now. The alcohol seriously makes me SO ANXIOUS. For at least three days afterwards I’m bothering my husband every five minutes asking if he’s mad at me. (hint: when you bother someone with this question every five minutes…they WILL eventually be mad at you, even if they weren’t before!) (in all seriousness, my husband could win awards for putting up with my bothering, he’s pretty awesome.)

The alcohol causing anxiety thing is not really new news, I’ve known for awhile that if I have a good bit of wine, I’m going to regret it in more ways than just craving McDonald’s the next day. I’m going to get that McDonald’s and then feel anxious about eating it. And then feel anxious about feeling anxious about it…anxiety is so annoying like that. I really need to remember to remind myself this before I start imbibing, and not the day after.

However, as of yesterday, my body seems to have fully recovered. Sadly, my bathroom scale says otherwise. What a pesky little thing it is. It’s all flashy and red, it calls out to be stepped on, which is when it snares you in it’s trap. It’s not really friendly at all. In fact, it’s really only there to say HA! I KNEW YOU HAD NO WILLPOWER AND WOULD STEP ON ME THE DAY AFTER EATING HANGOVER FOOD!!! Which I did, of course, and of course I should have known better, because the number was ridic, and shouldn’t be a number that the scale is allowed to display.

For me, letting myself have a night like I did on Saturday is such a slippery slope. I definitely am like, “It’s just for tonight, it’s a special occasion,” in my head, and then the next day when I feel like poo warmed over, I think, “well, it’s just cause I feel so awful today”…and then I feel awful for two more days…and then being bad becomes a bad habit again! Slippery slope…more like icy ravine where healthy eating goes to die.

I’m so clever with the metaphors. I just had to google ‘metaphor’ to make sure that was the right word…

Here are some pics from Saturday night. Such a pretty bride!!! As I ate the food, I thought to myself that I should take a pic of it for the blog…but then I ate it all. IT WAS AMAZING.

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